Education Incarnate

Educational Philosophy and Theory 48 (4) (2016)
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Abstract

For the past 15 years, scholars in education have focused on Levinas’s work largely in terms of his understanding of alterity, of the self-Other relation, of ethics as ‘first philosophy’ and the significance these concepts have on rethinking educational theory and practice. What I do in this paper, by way of method, is to start from a slightly different place, from the assertion that there is indeed something ‘new’ to be explored in Levinas’s philosophy – both in terms of ideas to be found within his work, and also in terms of the demands educational ideas and practices place on his work from without. That is, how does the actual, lived specificity of educational encounters occasion a different set of questions than one would otherwise pose if thinking only from within the discipline of philosophy, or from a purely theoretical point of view? In light of this, this paper explores Levinas’s ideas of sensibility, materiality, and embodiment. I see these not simply as supports for his ethical thought, but as the very core of incarnation without which his ethics makes no sense. I propose that these ideas are quintessentially pedagogical aspects of his thought – that is, they are always already rooted in a relational context of change and alteration of the subject.

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